Category Archives: Intermediate-Middle School Chapter Books

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A Tiny Piece of Sky by Shawn K. Stout

This book is set in the summer of 1939, leading up to the start of World War II in Europe. Ten-year old Frankie Baum is the youngest of three sisters in a small American town. Her middle sister is spending the summer on their aunt’s farm while Frankie is stuck helping her father get his new restaurant ready to open. When Mr. Baum refuses to support the powerful president of the town’s chamber of commerce who is running for mayor, he begins a smear campaign against Mr. Baum, whispering that he is a Nazi sympathizer. When Frankie hears these rumors, she is confused. Her beloved father couldn’t be guilty of wrongdoing, could he? We see the evils of the world, such as discrimination against Germans and the inferior treatment of black citizens of the town, through the eyes of a child, who in the end knows in her heart that her father is a good man. A heart-warming novel with an inspiring message of loyalty and strength in the face of adversity.

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The Tortoise and the Soldier: A Story of Courage and Friendship in World War I by Michael Foreman

This illustrated chapter book is based on the true story of Englishman Henry Friston, who served in World War I as a gunner on a battleship. During the Battle of Gallipoli, a tortoise was literally blown up and landed in a crater where Henry was taking shelter from bombing. Henry at first left the creature, then went back for him. He kept the tortoise throughout the war, naming him Ali Pasha, and then took him home with him. Ali Pasha lived a grand life with his new friend and was over 100 years old when he passed away. This is both a story of the bond between human and companion animal and a history book of World War I, particularly the naval troops who fought on the Turkish coast. The author knew Henry and Ali Pasha as a young boy and the book also describes Henry’s experiences before and after the war. It also includes photos of Henry and Ali Pasha.

troublethewater

Trouble the Water by Frances O’Roark Dowell

In 1953, in a small town in Kentucky, an 11-year-old black girl named Callie sees an old dog wandering near the river for days. She wants to find out who he is and where he belongs. Meanwhile, a white boy of the same age named Wendell decides to look for an old cabin in the woods that his father has told him he played in as a child. The two children cross paths and find the cabin together. Callie has heard stories that the cabin was used to help runaway slaves hide as they attempted to cross the river to gain their freedom. Inside the cabin, the children find the name Jim carved into the wood. Callie, stubborn, bold, and inquisitive, decides to investigate the cabin, the dog, and the name Jim further. This leads to the discovery of a boy drowned in the river 10 years ago whose dog was thought to have drowned with him. Callie believes the dog she has found is Jim’s dog, still looking for him. The reader also meets the spirit of Jim, trapped between here and heaven and not quite sure that he is dead, as well as the spirit of another boy, Thomas, a runaway slave who died in the cabin. Thomas has not crossed over because he is waiting for his family to come and get him. Callie and Wendell form a tentative friendship, both knowing that black and white are not supposed to be friends in their small town. While they are investigating the past, the town is presently in a state of tension because of an article in the black newspaper suggesting that the new town swimming pool be open to blacks and not white only. All these events, past and present, draw in Callie and Wendell. Touching on friendship, loyalty, loss, and the issue of race inequality, this is a moving book that will touch children and introduce them in an age-appropriate manner to the issues that led to the Civil Rights Movement. We can see that Callie will one day be leading the charge for civil rights; Wendell is not quite there yet, but he will be. He is willing to stick his neck out for Callie and he believes in fairness. The book shows how one person can make a difference, or at least do their part; otherwise there would never be change. The book is also a lovely homage to the loyalty of dogs to their people, showing us how Jim’s dog would not give up until he found Jim and helped him move on. This is a beautiful story, tender, with moments of sadness, but leaving the reader with an uplifted feeling.

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The Magician’s House Quartet (The Steps up the Chimney, The Door in the Tree, The Tunnel behind the Waterfall, The Bridge in the Clouds) by William Corlett

This is a fantasy series for children. Three siblings spend their school holidays with their uncle and his girlfriend in their large house in the countryside in Wales. While exploring the house, the children discover a secret room that leads them to a magician from the past who has traveled to modern times in order to protect the valley in which the house is located from the influence of an evil magician. The series has a strong focus on environmental preservation and animal rights, as the evil magician wants to industrialize the valley and destroy the natural habit of its wildlife. Through magic, the children are able to communicate with the local animal population and the animals help the children fight the evil magician to save the valley. This series will be especially appealing to animal lovers. It is serious in tone, with battles and death, so it is for older children.

castle

The Castle of Adventure by Enid Blyton

This series by famed author Enid Blyton, set in the 1940s, tells the adventures of a group of four children and their pet parrot, aided by their adult friend Bill. In this title, the children are on vacation in the countryside near an old castle that is supposedly abandoned, but they stumble into a mystery when exploring the castle. Enid Blyton’s books are old-fashioned for today’s children, but they are full of excitement and adventure so I think their appeal is timeless. I especially love the Famous Five and Adventurous Four series.

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The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John and illustrated by Kevin Cornell

Miles was his school’s greatest prankster, but now he has moved to rural Yawnee Valley, where cows are the main attraction. After being foiled in his first attempt to prank his new school by another prankster, Miles declares a prank war against his rival, a classmate named Niles. Niles turns out to be a brilliant prankster who continually one-ups Miles. In the end, they become friends and join forces to pull off the greatest prank Yawnee Valley has even seen! This book is very funny and clever with zany illustrations adding to the fun. Fans of titles such as Big Nate and Diary of a Wimpy Kid will enjoy this book, which is the first in a series.

 

fortunesfarm

Fortune’s Magic Farm by Suzanne Selfors

Ten-year old Isabelle was left on her adoptive grandmother’s doorstep as an infant. She has grown up in the dismal town of Runny Cove, listening to her grandmother’s stories of her youth, when Runny Cove was Sunny Cove and a happy place. Now it never stops raining and the residents have never seen the sun. Isabelle and her grandmother work for a slave-driving boss named Mr. Supreme in his umbrella factory and live in the boardinghouse of a cruel and selfish woman. Now, her grandmother is ill and unable to work, so Isabelle works extra shifts at the factory, always cold, wet, and underfed. It is the only life she has ever known. But with the love of her grandmother and her best friend and her unwavering belief that someday, something special will happen to her, she manages. Then one day, something magical happens and Isabelle discovers she is the heir of a family that tends the last magic farm in the world. She leaves Runny Cove and travels to Fortune’s Magic Farm, where she learns about her parents and her heritage. But what of those she left behind in Runny Cove? Isabelle is determined to save them. Will she have to choose between her new life and her old? Although it sounds dark, the book is very humorous and has a feel-good ending, in which the good characters get happy endings and the bad guys get their due in an appropriate manner for the age group. A fun and enjoyable fantasy for elementary school students.